Entering the Mr World New Zealand contest inspired Courtenay Bernard to lose 20kg and earned him the ultimate title.
The 27-year-old Ranui resident was up against 49 others before making it to the final five.
Contestants took to the stage at Epsom Girls Grammar this month for judging.
They competed in seven categories including best national costume, swimwear, formal wear and talent.
The former Waitakere College student felt confident about each section except swimwear.
"I had a lavalava which I fashioned into a hoodie that I unravelled and tied around my waist during my walk," he says.
"My cousin said: `Make sure you don't twist it as you walk' – and of course that's exactly what happened."
But the error didn't affect his scores and Mr Bernard carried on to win.
It's the first time the cruise ship singer has competed in a pageant and he did it as a personal challenge.
"At the time it was definitely something out of my reach. But I thought whatever happens it's going to be a win-win situation. If I don't win I've become fitter and better mentally and if I win that would be amazing."
Mr Bernard lost 20kg in six months while preparing for the event.
"When I entered I was the biggest I'd ever been and now I'm the smallest I've been since leaving high school."
Mr Bernard spent at least two hours a day at the gym with a personal trainer and followed a strict diet including fruit and chicken salad.
The Niuean-Samoan is the first Polynesian to win the Mr World New Zealand competition.
"It's a real accomplishment for me and the Pacific community has been very supportive."
Entrants must be New Zealand citizens or residents, at least 1.77 metres tall, unmarried and aged between 19 and 33.
Mr World New Zealand judge Russell Meek was struck by Mr Bernard's humility.
"He was very honest and had the kind of values that represented New Zealand."
Fellow judge Katrina Turner says a good body was not the most important factor to winning the title.
"It was what's in your heart and in the mind that counted – not just being good looking."
Ms Turner says Mr Bernard can expect things to get a lot harder at the international competition.
"Competition is fierce – it's not about making friends. He'll really need to up his game to stand out in a crowd."
Mr Bernard's mother says the family was over the moon about the win.
"We're all very proud of him. People always told me he was handsome but I just saw my son."
"It just goes to show for people like us, just an average family, that good things can happen if you put your mind to it."
Mr Bernard will head to the Mr World 2012 pageant in June.
It is expected to be in New York.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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